The Idiot

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Genres: Best books ever listing
Language: English
Type: Digital

The Idiot, one of Fyodor Dostoevsky's most profound and enduring works, was first published in 1869. The novel, set in 19th-century Russia, delves into the complex psyche of Prince Myshkin, a man of extraordinary kindness and innocence who is often mistaken for an idiot.

Plot Summary

Prince Myshkin, a man of gentle nature and extraordinary kindness, returns to Russia after spending several years in a Swiss psychiatric clinic. He inherits a vast fortune from a distant relative and arrives in St. Petersburg, where he encounters a society plagued by social divisions, moral corruption, and intrigue.

Myskhin's arrival sparks a whirlwind of events, as he forms deep connections with a diverse cast of characters, including:

  • Nastasya Filippovna: A beautiful but troubled woman who is engaged to the wealthy and domineering Rogozhin.
  • Aglaya Ivanovna: A young and intelligent woman who becomes infatuated with Myshkin.
  • General Ivolgin: A disgraced and impoverished aristocrat who seeks Myhskin's financial assistance.
  • Parfyon Rogozhin: A wealthy and jealous man who is obsessed with Nastasya Filippovna and becomes Myshkin's rival.

As Myshkin interacts with these individuals and their entanglements, his actions and words challenge the prevailing social norms and expose the hypocrisy and moral decay of his surroundings. His kindness and compassion are often met with suspicion and misunderstanding, and he struggles to reconcile his idealistic beliefs with the harsh realities of the world.

Throughout the novel, Myshkin's interactions with the various characters lead to a series of dramatic developments, including love triangles, betrayals, and even murder. The story unfolds with psychological depth and philosophical insights, exploring themes of love, faith, morality, and the nature of human existence.


The Idiot explores a wide range of themes, including:

  • The nature of good and evil: The novel juxtaposes the pure and innocent Myshkin with the morally corrupt characters who surround him, raising questions about the nature of good and evil in human nature.
  • The role of love and compassion: Myshkin's unwavering kindness and compassion, despite the cruelty and betrayal he experiences, highlight the transformative power of love and the possibility of redemption.
  • The struggle between faith and doubt: The novel explores the conflict between religious faith and the harsh realities of life, as Myshkin's unwavering belief in God is challenged by the suffering and injustice he witnesses.
  • The search for meaning in life: The novel delves into the depths of human existence, as the characters grapple with questions of meaning, purpose, and the ultimate significance of life.


The Idiot features a cast of complex and memorable characters, each with their own distinct personalities and motivations. At the center of the story is Prince Myshkin, whose kindness, innocence, and spiritual quest set him apart from the morally flawed individuals who surround him.

Nastasya Filippovna, a beautiful but troubled woman, embodies the complexities of human nature, caught between her desire for love and her self-destructive tendencies. Aglaya Ivanovna, an intelligent and independent young woman, represents the new generation in Russian society, seeking to break free from traditional constraints.

General Ivolgin, a disgraced aristocrat, embodies the decline of the old order, while Parfyon Rogozhin, a wealthy and obsessive man, represents the destructive power of unchecked passion.


The Idiot is considered one of Dostoevsky's greatest masterpieces, lauded for its profound psychological insights, philosophical depth, and exploration of the human condition. The novel has had a lasting impact on literature and continues to be studied and admired by readers and scholars around the world.

Some of the novel's most famous quotes include:

  • "Love is the supreme happiness in life."
  • "There is nothing more terrible than to know that one is responsible for the well-being of another."
  • "The greatest mystery of all is the soul of man."
  • "The heart is stronger than the head."
  • "The only way to escape fear is to face it."


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